“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down …”
For those of us who grew up with fond memories of Mary Poppins, her penguins, very British kids, and chimney sweeps, Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks is going to hit your nostalgic sweet tooth like a sugary cocktail made from sentimentality and Hollywood magic. And if you’re at all interested in Disney history and lore, consider your ticket bought.
Saving Mr. Banks details the troubling preproduction showdowns between P.L. Travers—the stiff-upper-lipped author of the Mary Poppins stories—and the determined Walt Disney. Your enjoyment of the film will depend on how you take your grandfatherly figures and traumatic childhood flashbacks, and how long you want to spend in the Disney vault. The movie wrenches much too many artificial emotions, leaving an ooey-gooey, sappy aftertaste that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
Emma Thompson makes due with the difficult Travers in the most delightful way: making her sympathetic while doling out the barbs. Unfortunately, it’s very clear to see that Tom Hanks’s portrayal bears little resemblance to the then-older, chain smoking Disney; which is a shame, because Hanks is as huggable as ever in the best Disney-approved incarnation of “the man who started it all.”
The movie takes too much of its own medicine by attempting to diagnose Mrs. Travers’s reluctance to sign over the film rights to a pushy Mr. Disney. If only they kept it to Mad Men: The Disney Musical, it wouldn’t become such a chore. But if you go, do stay for the credit sequence for a hidden historical Mickey.
SAVING MR. BANKS | PG | OPENS FRI 12.13